Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer).
Birdsong is a communicative process between birds associated with courtship and mating. Birdsong is considered to be distinct from bird calls, which are shorter than birdsong and attributed with alarms or maintaining contact with a flock.
Although vocal learning is widely speculated to depend on motor to auditory (i.e., forward) pathways, the neurons that convey forward signals important to vocal learning remain unknown. Here the authors identify neurons that transmit signals from songbird motor to auditory regions and demonstrate their role in vocal learning.
Sleep rearranges the firing patterns of excitatory projection neurons in zebra finch songbirds. Patterned inhibition is implicated in maintaining stable songs in spite of the instability in the projection neuron population.
The study of speech or vocal disorder resulting from neurological diseases lacks a model capable of recapitulating vocal learning. This study suggests that the vocal disorder associated with Huntington's disease is observed in transgenic zebra finches carrying the full-length human mutant huntingtin gene.
This study examines how key inputs to a brain area vital for song production can interact cooperatively to change each other. The authors show that naturalistic stimulation patterns drive bidirectional in vitro plasticity in synaptic inputs to a song production area, and use this understanding to manipulate song plasticity in vivo.
The auditory response of song premotor HVC neurons in sleeping birds, and HVC activity in singing birds, is synchronized with particular moments of vocal motor movements as defined by a dynamical systems model of song production; this HVC activity could be used as a ‘forward’ model to predict behaviour and evaluate feedback.
A new study shows that the transient manipulation of neural activity can sometimes have 'off-target' effects, making it challenging to determine the specific neural circuit that generates a particular behaviour.